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HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Second Season Opener Breaks Series Record

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 3, 2012 at 1:26PM

While "Luck" took a bad turn for HBO, the cabler is cheering the numbers on "Game of Thrones." The eagerly anticipated second season opener broke the series record for viewers: 3.86 million tuned in, beating last season's June finale (3.04 million), per Nielsen estimates.
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Daenerys of 'Game of Thrones'
Daenerys of 'Game of Thrones'

While "Luck" took a bad turn for HBO, the cabler is cheering the numbers on "Game of Thrones." The eagerly anticipated second season opener broke the series record for viewers: 3.86 million tuned in, beating last season's June finale (3.04 million), per Nielsen estimates.

There's an embarrassment of riches for smart TV watchers right now, as AMC's "Mad Men" aired a new installment Sunday night (2.94 million viewers), the cabler's "The Killing" returned for its second season debut (1.80 million) and Showtime's "Shameless" second-season finale mustered 1.45 million.

But HBO's "Game of Thrones" handily beat all comers. (Here's TOH's review and intro to George R.R. Martin's densely populated fantasy world of rival kings, queens, princes and fiefdoms as well as dragons and shadowy otherworldly threats.)

It looks like "Thrones" could become HBO's most popular series after violent vampire saga "True Blood" (which routinely grabs 5 million viewers). Last December the season two debut of "Boardwalk Empire" pulled 3 million viewers. "Luck" did not do so well (never getting past the 600,000 mark for Sunday airings) and was axed by HBO after three race horses died and raised a PETA-fueled media furor. (Here's our review of the finale.)

How will "Girls," Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham's frankly sexy comedy about a 20ish Manhattan trio do when it premieres at 10 pm on April 15? (SXSW Q & A with them is here.) That is the next question.

[More "Game of Thrones" numbers at Variety.]

This article is related to: HBO Films, HBO , HBO, Television, TV, AMC, Reviews, Reviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.